Adult and Elder Care

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Your loved one’s care does not always take place in hospitals, or nursing homes, or doctor offices, or medical clinics. Most care actually occurs in the home – and that’s a good thing. People are healthier at home and health care costs are reduced. Family caregivers have the best interests of their loved ones at heart. But caregiving at home can take its toll and it certainly takes a lot of planning. The Nation’s 90 million family caregivers are front and center in providing care every day – enabling their loved ones to stay at home longer where they are happier and healthier.

Most adults would prefer to age in place. 90% of adults over the age of 65 would prefer to stay in their current home as they age. Family, friends, and neighbors provide 80% of the care for the elderly.

Two out of every 5 adults are family caregivers. 39% of all adult Americans are caring for a loved one who is sick, disabled, or living with frailties of old age. That’s up from 30% in 2010.

Complex care happens in the home. Almost half of family caregivers perform sophisticated medical/nursing tasks for their loved ones – such as providing wound care and operating specialized medical equipment – and up to 70% manage medications for their loved ones.

Caregiving affects the whole family. Men are now almost as likely to say they are family caregivers as women are (37% of men; 40% of women). And even 36% of younger Americans between ages 18 and 29 say they are family caregivers!

Many families make changes at home because of their caregiving responsibilities. Some families have to tighten their belts at home to pay for out-of-pocket caregiving costs (an average of $5,500 per year). And many more have to make home alterations to ensure safety, security, and cleanliness for their loved ones.

10 Tips for Family Caregivers

  1. Seek support from other caregivers.  See box at right for the campus support group.
  2. Take care of your own health so that you can be strong enough to take care of your loved one.
  3. Accept offers of help and suggest specific things people can do to help you.
  4. Learn how to communicate effectively with doctors.
  5. Caregiving is hard work so take respite breaks often.
  6. Watch out for signs of depression and don't delay in getting professional help when you need it.
  7. Be open to new technologies that can help you care for your loved one.
  8. Organize medical information so it's up to date and easy to find.
  9. Make sure legal documents are in order.
  10. Give yourself credit for doing the best you can in one of the toughest jobs there is!

from Caregiver Action Network